PPACA a Launching Point for Important Employee Discussions

July 16, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A principal at Mercer is calling on employers to use the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) as a launching point for health care discussions.  

“[C]onsider how you can use healthcare reform as an opportunity to have a productive dialogue with business leaders about the impact of healthcare costs and PPACA on your business, and about the related wellness and consumer initiatives that could have a positive impact,” said Jackie Cuthbert during a webcast.

Cuthbert said some of her clients have created senior leadership workbooks that highlight solutions to key issues and discussion starters. Sample headlines in webcast slides from Mercer include “U.S. Health Care delivery is at the heart of our cost challenges”, “Health Care Reform Looms Large” and “What do we need from our leaders.”

One article includes a “Let’s Talk” sidebar that offers questions for business leaders such as “How do you see yourself acting as a role model? As a communicator? As a coach?”

Whatever role a leader takes on, the conversations they start on healthcare can have a great impact on employees.

“The discussions often cascade through the manager ranks and all the way to employees building a culture who is engaged in better health,” Cuthbert said. “We believe that more of these conversations will and should happen as we move forward with healthcare reform.”

Cuthbert also said plan sponsors should consider how changes in the healthcare system and decisions in respect to PPACA affect a company’s value proposition to current and potential employees.

A Mercer survey, “What’s Working”, found that benefits are key to a employee’s decision to stay or a potential employee’s decision to join an organization (see “Employee Loyalty Has Dropped Worldwide”). Forty-five percent of respondents said benefits were key in their decision to join an organization, while 53% said benefits were key to their decision to stay with an organization.

“As benefits values shift with healthcare reform it will be critical, ... to think about your messaging around the value of working for your organization,” Cuthbert said. “Are you tapping into the full spectrum of that value including career opportunity and learning and development as well as plan benefits?”